“Whose Idea Was This?”- Looking At Vintage Recipes and Food History

Like most of the internet, I’ve gotten a real kick out of the Tik Tok videos of Dylan Hollis. The vintage style aficionado and self-described amateur food historian has carved a space for himself on the internet with his bombastic personality and humor while testing out recipes spanning the 1800s to early 2000s.

The recipes he tries vary wildly in quality, and the recurrence of typically timely ingredients (especially lard and gelatin) regularly turn into comedic gold. More than once, Dylan strikes oil in his search for tasty recipes (“magic” peanut butter cookies and an eggnog recipe from the 1800s spring quickly to mind) and I sometimes use his videos as inspiration for things I can make at the pie shop.

Most often, I find myself intrigued by the recipes he picks and the trends they exhibit. WHY so much lard in everything made before the 60s? Why so much gelatin in mid-century America? Just HOW freaking high, lonely, horny, or all three must someone have been to create the “Candlelight Salad?”

The answer is, simply, that these recipes- like the books, movies, and music that were enjoyed then- are products of their time. Foodways are a part of culture and one can track the history and trends of a period of time as easily in a cookbook as you could a textbook.

Someone back in the 1920s decided that this was a salad. James Beard described it as “culinary eroticism.”
Picture from Wikipedia.
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The Role of the Bagel

There are precious few Jewish delis in Portland. That’s not surprising, as we only make up about .7% of the population. There ARE, however, at least five or six bagel makers in the city.

Everyone has an opinion about whose bagels are the best- the best price, the best flavor, the best texture, the closest to the “New York City” ideal.

They are all right, they are also all wrong, they are going to argue about it, and that is possibly the most Jewish thing I’ve seen in this city outside of actually going to a synagogue.

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The God of Hospitality

Good evening, friends and neighbors! Sorry this blog is a day late- I was a little tied up for the same reason there wasn’t a “Whiskey and Jellybeans” yesterday. Namely, finally celebrating Passover with my family!

After a fashion, anyway

I did take the opportunity to do a little writing and thinking on the subject though. So let’s start with a seriously impolitic question today.

What god do you worship?

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Loafing About- A Hot Take On Bread Science

Good evening, friends and neighbors!

A few years back, Emily and I were checking out a candle shop in Collingswood, NJ. The place (predicatably) smelled almost overpowering. Besides candles there was a lot of incense, Wicca, natural- healing, and- what I have been told is an accepted term- “woo-woo stuff.”

The proprietress was behind the counter, and she asked what we did as she rang up our purchases. I told her I was a baker, and the following exchange happened:

“Oh good! I’ve always wanted to ask a baker this! Okay, so what’s the difference between wheat, yeast, and gluten? Like I’m trying to go gluten free because it’ll help my chakras align, but I’m also vegan and I REALLY like nutritional yeast, so like, is there gluten free yeast? Isn’t yeast alive, so isn’t it actually not vegan? And I was also wondering bzzzzzzzzzzz…..”

Me:

Animated gif of an extremely baffled llama

“….”

To avoid anyone from having to deal with this shenanigans again, and to answer a couple questions that have been pitched to me by other non-baking pros, here’s a Crash Course on Bread.

Let’s get started.

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